Starting in Missouri, a rare virus doctors are referring to as the “enterovirus D68” has now spread across 10 states, affecting many children along its way. According to the Center for Disease Control, the respiratory illness is related to the rhino virus which causes the common cold. The virus has likely spread due to children heading back to school. Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor, elaborates,
This is a very common time for outbreaks. Kids come back to school, they like to share things, they bring them home to their little brothers and sisters, and enteroviruses tend to occur in the summer.”
Records at the Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver indicate that between August 18 and September 4, doctors saw over 900 pediatric patients with symptoms of the virus, of which 86 were admitted to the intensive care unit. Besser expects the virus to continue to spread across the US.
Doctors say many children and adults who contract the virus may not be aware they have it because of the mild symptoms they experience. However, they also warn that children with asthma are more at risk of contracting the virus, as well as experiencing exacerbated symptoms. They recommend that parents ensure their children’s inhalers are accessible at all times, and there is a plan in place should the asthma attack get worse. Dr. Raju Meyappan of Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children says,
Make sure [parents] talk to all their caregivers about what to do if [the child has] an asthma attack and where to go if they need help…I think having a game plan in place helps.”
Symptoms of enterovirus D68 include respitaroty difficulty, fever, rash, gastrointestinal distress and sometimes (though rarely) neurologic illness such as aseptic meningitis.
One can reduce their risk of contracting the virus by frequent hand washing. The virus is able to exist on surfaces for about a week, meaning it is crucial to use hand sanitizer and disinfect communal surfaces. For a child in distress, doctors urge caretakers to seek medical care immediately. Though there is currently no vaccine for the virus, hospitals are able to provide oxygen, IV fluid, and drug therapies to reduce the stress on the lungs.
However, before parents panic, doctors remind the public that school-age children tend to contract 7-10 viruses a year. Used to being exposed to lots of germs, kids tend to have a strong a immune system.
Read more here- “10 States Report Enterovirus Outbreak in Kids,” (Jessica Durando, USA Today Network)
Olivia is a graduate of Villanova University where she studied Economics and History, minoring in Gender and Women's Studies. She also has experience working with federal legislatures on health care policy, women's issues, and Internet safety.